Niall Collins, Maria Byrne, Willie O'Dea, Alan English, Jan O'Sullivan, Tom Neville and Maurice Quinlivan showing support for journalism
EDITORS from regional and national newspapers from across the country briefed TDs and senators in Dail Eireann on the need for support for independent journalism to be included in the forthcoming Budget.
The industry leaders met with members of the Oireachtas in Dublin last week as part of a nationwide #JournalismMatters campaign, driven by Local Ireland and NewsBrands Ireland.
The Limerick Leader was represented by Alan English, group editorial director with Iconic Newspapers, who own the Leader, and TDs and senators from the city and county.
The major campaign calls on the Government to use the upcoming budget to deliver on a five-point plan for the industry. This includes a 5% Vat rate on newspapers and digital publications; a reformation of Ireland’s defamation laws “to ensure that the stories that need to be told are told”; the appointment of a Minister for Media, who will have oversight for all aspects of the “complex media landscape”; to establish a media fund for news publishers in order to “drive innovation and investment”; and to invest in a training support scheme for journalists.
Local Ireland president, Frank Mulrennan, said that without strong local newspapers, politicians will be challenged in maintaining engagement with the electorate as local journalism reaches “at least 1.5m people” each week.
“Aside from the loss to democratic life in our society, the losses will be big in many communities – jobs will go, not just in the newspaper titles, but many of the supporting ones in newsagents and other indirect jobs,” he said.
NewsBrands Ireland chairperson, Vincent Crowley, said the future of Irish journalism is “at a crossroads and Government inaction now is simply not an option”.
“Without the supports and investment, and clarity on VAT rates, the sector will not be able to thrive and invest, but will falter and publications will be forced to close or at best scale back on the good, independent journalism that has been a bedrock of Irish democracy.
“The forthcoming budget gives this government the opportunity to send a strong message that it appreciates a vibrant news media industry in this country and is seeking ways to protect it for future generations,” he added.